We really don't have much normalcy in our day yet. We found a teeny tiny apartment in Long Beach, no, not close to the beach, but rather to our church plant target area in North Long Beach, but not quite. Even though I love that our church plant leadership wants to hone in on an area here in Long Beach that is underprivileged (where my heart is), I am just not quite yet ready to plant roots there, at least not without my husband. Speaking of my husband, he finally got word that his transfer got approved but he is still in the process of being vetted. That initial transfer just got him to Cali. For anyone confused about the trail of transition concerning my husband's job, here is a quick run down on what it looks like. It may be a bit confusing reading it, so just imagine what it feels like living it. (Skip this if I have already told you in person or over the phone)
- (Items 1-9 are for PLAN A) Paul put in a transfer to San Diego to get our family out of Washington and to California. That transfer is within the same ranks/position/pay as is current job, meaning he gets to keep retirement benefits/years in etc. Before leaving Washington state, he also applied for another position in another sector/department within the same line of work, meaning he will keep retirement stuff, pay, and more or less his same position, just doing a different aspect of his current job. This job will get him working out of a general Los Angeles county area (there were 4 available slots/cities he applied to that would get him close to where our church plant will be)
- Our house sold too quickly after putting in on the market and we all had to move sooner rather than later, instead of waiting for the job transfer to come through. We literally moved on faith with no other real tangible possibility that the transfer would even happen or get approved.
- We all left Washington together and drove to Cali together as a family. The kids and I had to stay with my brother and sister-in-law in San Diego while the hubs ended up two states away teaching at the academy, but that gig has now turned into 3 months of teaching, which turned out to be a good thing since that first transfer just got approved at the beginning of this month.
- Getting approved is just the first step. Now he needs a report date. But that does not happen until he is vetted. Vetting happens in Washington D.C. After that process is complete, then he will get his final report date. They gave him a projected time frame of mid October, but that is projected, not final or actual.
- While he was at the academy, he met some fellow co-workers who had applied for a transfer to that other department/sector that my husband is trying to secure (the job that will get him to LA county). Those other co-workers are not competing with my husband since they chose different cities in different states. They gave him "hook up" information that allowed him to contact human resources directly for the cities he wants. Human resources requested information from him. Once he provided that information, they immediately put his name on a list to receive a report date, literally bypassing the entire application process. Going the initial application route, it would have taken him 6 months to a year to hear something. Going the "hook up" route, meaning he just knew people who knew people, "expedited" the process down to 2-6 months. (even though i despise being away from my hubs, there was a hidden blessing in that teaching gig)
- The teaching gig is just about over. It ends Sept 23.
- He will go on 2 weeks of vacation time to spend time with us. YAY!!!!
- He will begin working in San Diego mid October (projected)
- He will stay with my brother for his work days and live with us on his off days so that he can start connecting with our church plant leadership team. Sadly, he will now be dealing with that brutal San Diego to LA traffic. This will be our new normal until that other job, the "hook up" position, opens up and he gets that final report date that will have him headquartered out of one of the 4 cities here in LA county.
- Plan B - if that final job transfer to LA county doesn't pan out, he will quit his current job (meaning he will get out of the government sector completely) and apply for a lateral transfer within a local police department, or more like submit the necessary paperwork to secure a local police officer position and THEN quit his job. The pay will be significantly lower, he will lose all retirement benefits, but at least he will be HERE, in Long Beach, with his family and our new church family.
Can I also just add, I don't like waiting. Waiting must utilize massive amounts of patience, which is a character trait I don't readily have stockpiled in my heart and mind. Waiting and patience forces me to TRUST IN THE LORD, for just about everything. When I say everything, I literally mean EVERYTHING. We are not talking about a fluffy everything, or a theoretical everything, we are talking about everything everything.
- Going from living 8 years of isolated country life and moving into a city setting, causes rolling waves of fear and discomfort to land on the doorstep of my heart.
- In idolatry, I learned that country living became equivalent to "safe". When my mom moved me and my sisters out of the city when I was child, in my heart, country life eventually came to signify safety and city life meant danger. If that was how my heart and mind perceived the world at large, then I was not trusting in God. I was trusting His creation to give me what I needed. Yes, country life is beautiful, serene, peaceful (you can throw in a bunch more adjectives here), but there is no true safety or true security or true peace in those settings. It was not until we moved here that I realized that I had been placing my trust in God's creation to give me what only he can provide. Those sneaky idols of the heart stink and the stench of this particular idol was causing me so much discomfort I was forced.....who am I kidding, its not a past tense issue, it's a current tense issue. Let me rephrase that - These sneaky idols of my heart stink and the stench of this particular idol IS causing me so much discomfort, I AM forced to reckon with it. I AM forced to see the idol for what it is, fall flat on my face in repentance and cry. After I am done crying, I look up, with dirt mixed with tears smeared all over my face, realize the grip this idol still has on me and throw my face back down in the earth and cry some more.
- There is no final moment of "aha" here. I am still, currently, as we speak, deeply wading in the trenches, dealing with this issue. Now that God has shown me a mirror of what is inside my heart, I can't magically pull out the strength and mental fortitude to create trust where trust is not there. I cant tell myself, "Ariel, just trust God more" and magically, by the power of my words alone, trust appears. Trust is an interesting thing in that it is a feeling and emotion that is invisible. You know when it's there and you know when it's not, even though you can't tangibly measure it. Trust comes from deep inside your soul and your gut.
- The New American Commentary cites it this way: To trust “is a concept of central theological importance in the Old Testament. It expresses that which is, or at least should be, central in people’s relationship with God.” Trust “almost always refers to a process at the foundation of existence. Whoever trusts, relies on something, and everything depends upon the reliability of the other; one seeks protection, and one stands or falls with that on which one relies.” God calls on his people to trust him at all times (Ps 62:8; cp. 115:9–11; Isa 26:3–4; 30:15). People are trusting folk, but choose the wrong things in which to place their trust—riches (Job 31:24; Prov 11:28); important people (Ps 146:3; cp. Jer 17:5–8); military fortifications (Deut 28:52; Jer 5:17); in personal abilities (Prov 3:5; 28:26).
- Trust is not a "spiritual illusion" or something we can flippantly manufacture. Furthermore, placing trust in God's creation to provide certain sensibilities is idolatry. Country rural serene environments could never give me what only God can, even if they are beautifully designed by him. That same commentary says this: Whenever a person’s desire looks to the creature (or in this case, creation) rather than the Creator, he is guilty of foolishness. An insatiable desire for things not rightly possessed assumes that things can satisfy rather than God himself. Whenever a person sets his priorities on things made rather than on the Maker of things, he is guilty of idolatry.
For someone who claims to love God with all her heart, and all her soul, and all her strength, learning that I was trusting in country settings to give me peace and security, that I was taking the serenity of God's creation and turning it into an idol, I was forced to realize that I was not trusting God with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. Once that smacked me right in the face, I had to repent. Plainly. Simply.
The funny thing about this heart idol is that I would not have known it was there had we stayed where we were at. If our family had not moved in obedience to a conviction to uproot our family to be part of the church plant team we discovered back in the beginning of 2016, I would never have known that I had a hidden sneaky stinky culprit in my heart that needed to die. In content obliviousness, I would not have known that I had a fear and trust issue that needed to be exposed, dealt with, and repented of, (mind you, daily repent of).
So now that I am aware of my lack of trust and drowning fear, where does that leave me?
It leaves me looking to scripture:
Mathew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
It leaves me depending on God alone to give me what I need, because I have no other option. LITERALLY. However, I also know, through his Word, that only God provides what I need, when I need it, forcing me to really trust God with a raw exposed, sight unseen kind of trust. This trust goes deeper than throwing words into the air so that I can sound "spiritual".
1 John 4:18 - There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Knowing that God has brought me to a scary shore of unknown uncharted waters that look deep, knowing I don't know how to swim, I know that God has not done so as a form of punishment. I also know that fixing my eyes on Jesus allows me comfort and security that trumps any kind of peace and security that God's creation can bring. Peter's experience on the boat, with Jesus calling out to him, just entered a whole new depth of meaning in my soul, heart and mind. Peter's mistake was that he took his eyes off Jesus. We all know that. But now that I am up in that boat, I am realizing my soul is just as frail as Peter's. So what do I do in my frailty? How easy it is to tell myself to not be like Peter, it's an entirely different matter to actually not be like Peter. In my flesh, I am Peter. I look at circumstantial waves and begin to sink out of fear. No matter how much I tell myself to not look at my circumstances, they are looming and seem overcoming.
So what do I do?
I sink..... and allow Jesus to lovingly, yet with rebuke come to me and tell me I have little faith. And he would be correct. Because even though I tell myself my faith is grand, my flesh tells me different. And because Jesus comes with BOTH love and rebuke, miraculously, my faith grows.
Is that what it means to have faith like a child?
Mathew 18:2-4 - Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Children comically think they know everything and then throw fits when they realize they don't. But when their parents comes to them with loving rebuke and redirection, trust in their parents grow. They learn to trust that their parents do know more, and in faith children will allow themselves to be lead and guided by the very ones they have learned to trust.
If I am feeling fear, overwhelming fear, I must cry out to God to continue perfecting me in His love. I know, through scripture, that right before Jesus was arrested he dealt with overwhelming fear too. God did not take away the circumstances to erase the fear, instead, the Father gave the Son what he needed to endure those circumstance. Likewise, I know that my good Father has also given me what I need to endure fearful circumstances, namely his Son, my mediator, my great high priest. I know this because scripture tells me so.
Hebrews 4: 14016 - Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Knowing and meditating on the very words of God himself through scripture concerning his Son causes fear to dissipate. I gotta keep going back to God and Scripture daily. Doing so allows long strings of time periods where fear is gone, meaning I can focus on other things that need my attention, like my home. Or at least our "right now" home.
Going from a 2700 square foot country home on 3 acres to a 700-800-ish square foot apartment right smack in the middle of the city is interesting.
The neighbor's tv comes through my walls every morning. Hearing people move about upstairs till the wee morning hours. Looking out my window to see people walking on a side walk 10 feet outside my living room window. Becoming an apartment dweller is challenging for someone who has grown accustomed to seeing people from afar. People are so close here. Almost too close. However, I can't let that unnerve me. I will choose to see all these people invading my bubble space as neighbors to serve, the mission field that God brought us too. Why must I wait for my husband to start serving our neighbors, right? So, this weekend I will make bread to give to my neighbor, whose tv I hear every morning and the ones I hear coming and going up and down the stairs in the middle of the night? Can implementing a servants heart and one filled with fear reside in the same place?
Also, how can I not make an abundance of bread with all my nice looking jars with potential goodness contained in them staring at me in the face? They are beckoning me to bake.
On a less-painful sanctifying issue, I made a trip to Ikea and found a table. I initially went there to find a small bar-sized table to fit into our tiny kitchen. However, once I came upon a beautiful 92 inch country style one, I laughed at the thought of buying a measly minuscule table. Seeing it in the store made me realize that we are table people.
- As a homeschool family, our lives happen around our table.
- We eat together as a family, around our table.
- The boy works on Lego creations, around our table.
- The girl does her homeschool studies, around our table.
- I do loads and loads of seminary writing, around our table.
- Due to #5, I don't have much time to write blog posts, but when I do, it happens around our table.
Also, on our quest for tall bookshelves, we realized we don't know anyone with a truck anymore so moving tall unbend-able furniture is no longer an option. Well, we do, but he is currently using his truck two states away. So, we decided to make a crate book shelf. Micheal's and Home Depot have wood crates, where we bought ours. I bought the boy his first drill and away he went.....drilling and creating.
I will need my husband to make a base for this once he gets here, but for right now, this will suffice. It's not too wide or deep. Perfect for small space living.
I also found an $8.00 side table at a local thrift store. I bought some aqua stain, plastic gloves, sand paper, steel wool, and me and my girl got to work. Not bad for amateurs. I do have to admit though that my husband walked us through the process over the phone.
Since our kitchen is super tiny, probably about the size of the children's former bathroom back in WA, counter space was gonna be challenging. I made a trip to our local ReStore and found this lovely bottom kitchen cabinet for $30 bucks. I will need to be on the lookout for a piece of counter-top to sit on it and my husband gave me some leads as to where to look, so hopefully, by week's end, my toaster oven (we are not microwave people) will have a new comfortable home to sit on.
Last but not least, I discovered World Market last night. Can I just say.....OH!! MY!! WORD!!! As soon as the kids and I walked in, we were ooooing and ahhhing left and right. A couple of friends recommended another store I had never heard of, Home Goods, but after venturing into it, I was just not feeling it. Cute stuff...but nothing called out to me. World Market???.....now that is an entirely different story all together. I can seriously get in a world of hurt going into that store too often. EVERYTHING, had my name on it. How can one resist items when things were made with you in mind.
Here are a couple items I picked up from World Market.
Poofs for the kids to sit on while they play their games.
A gorgeous lamp shade for an old lamp. Bowls that can contain themselves and have handles. A handy dandy salt holder with a cute wooden spoon. A lovely wooden bowl to match my new kitchen drawer. A ginger colored basket to hold my ginger.